Monday, June 29, 2009

Velleman K4003 2x30 watt audio amplifier

I blogged a couple days ago about the outdoor speakers I mounted on the patio. I'd like to talk a little bit more about the problem I had in setting this up and how I solved it.

It's hard to find a standalone stereo audio amplifier anymore.

You can find amplified speakers, typically intended for use with computers. Those do take line-in, but typically have integrated speakers which typically are designed for a desktop installation. It's not really the right thing for a patio, and the speakers you get are certainly not weather resistant.

You can find home stereo receiver/amplifiers, but those typically have AM/FM radios built-in at the very least, and typically even in this day and age still include phono preamps as well. If all you want to do is plug in something like an iPod, it's just overkill.

No, what I want is an audio amplifier that takes a single stereo line level input and has a pair of speaker connections. For controls, a simple volume knob and power switch is fine. No need for anything fancier.

Well, I've found a solution, though it does come in kit form, so you need to be good with a soldering iron. It's the Velleman K4003 2x30 watt audio amplifier.

I actually bought one of these a while ago for use out by the hot tub, where there's another pair of speakers set up. I used to have another amplifier kit that I had built before that ran on 12 vdc. The best I could do was a 12 volt wall-wart power supply, but that was inadequate for the purpose, since it introduced a nasty 60 Hz hum in the speakers. The Velleman amp, by contrast, is designed to run with a 12 vac bipolar power input. That is, you hook up a 24 VAC center tapped transformer.

With an iPhone hooked up to the patio speakers, the output is quite loud. But even so, it's not at all distorted. The levels are high enough that you'd want to use a volume control in front of the input. A dual gang 20 kΩ logarithmic pot works perfectly. You hook the "counterclockwise" end of each pot up to ground, the opposite end to the audio input, and hook the sweep of the pot up to the amp's audio input.

The kit is available from Jameco, part # 129138. A suitable transformer can also be had from them, part # 99654.

DirecTV and KFTL

Let me start off this little rant by saying that I don't really watch KFTL. Most of their programming is either home shopping or the same religious whacko jabbering on and on about whatever. Not my cup of tea.

But they do run classic TV during the night (rather than infomercials), and once in a while when I've run past them with the analog tuner (before they transitioned last week), they were showing Victory At Sea, which has an amazing musical score, if nothing else.

Since they transitioned to digital, KFTL is somewhat difficult to pull in. The HDHomerun has them sort of in-and-out, depending on the weather conditions. The Samsung tuner brings them in a little better.

But the DirecTV receivers don't show KFTL in the channel list at all.

The DirecTV HR20/HR21/HR22 can tune local channels (the HR21 and HR22 need to have the AM21 ATSC tuner add-on), but they get the list of channels over the dish from DirecTV along with the program guide. You can't "scan" for channels with these receivers, you must pick and choose from the available channels they say you can have.

The good news is that you can pick two markets, in case some of the channels are from an adjacent market. This is how I am able to get the tuners to see KSBW and KCBA (you tell it 95050 for the San Francisco bay area DMA and 95060 for the Santa Cruz/Monterey/Salinas market). But if you get a channel that is not on their list... Well, then you *don't* get that channel.

KFTL is not on their channel list.

I've attempted to bring this up with DirecTV. The response I got from their customer service department was that KFTL was not on the list because it is an out-of-market station.

KFTL transmits from Mount San Bruno. There is no possibility that they could be any more in the San Francisco market than that unless they were on Sutro tower, which is one mile north and actually in the city of San Francisco.

In short, their assertion is factually incorrect.

I rather suspect that the issue is that since KFTL is a low power broadcaster that they're just to lazy to add it to the list.

Note that I'm not demanding that DirecTV carry KFTL over the dish as part of the local channels they provide for those who don't have an OTA antenna. But for those of us who can receive them, I think they should not stand in the way.

If you agree and are a DirecTV customer in the bay area, why not drop them a line? Tell them that if they want to lie about why they don't have KFTL in the lineup, they should try coming up with a lie that isn't demonstrably false.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Apple iPhone composite AV cable review

Now that XM streaming is available on the iPhone, I've really taken to it. We used to have a SkyFi2 that I was using as an alarm clock and for getting XM out by the hot tub and out on the patio. That SkyFi2 is now available on eBay. Instead, I'm going to use some very clever javascript to bring up the streams in Safari every morning as my alarm clock, and we'll take a phone out to the hot tub to stream it there.

For the patio, I decided to go all out. I wanted a way to both stream the music and charge the phone at the same time. I didn't really want to buy a dock, though, since both of our phones are in cases, and while the cases typically don't fit well in docks, they do tend to accept docking cables.

So I bought the Apple Composite AV cable. The idea is that the audio will plug into another one of those Jameco audio amplifier kits, and the speaker wires will go through the wall to outdoor speakers. The iPhone end of the AV cable will sit on a little shelf just inside the patio door.

The cable is a little bit expensive, but it does include a USB power port. One of Apple's "sugar cube" chargers and a dock cable are by themselves almost as expensive as this cable.

One note, though is that whenever this cable is connected, the internal speaker of the phone is disabled. All the UI sound effects go out the cable instead. Also, whenever the cable is connected, YouTube and the iPod video playback don't actually play on the iPhone's screen. Instead, they play out the video cable and you get a still image on the iPhone screen. Also, the phone's UI does not display on the TV.

The "genius" at the Apple store actually got that wrong. He said that the video would play on both screens.

But I'm actually reasonably satisfied with the result. I don't plan on playing video while it's connected this way, though I suppose I could use a projector and one of those outdoor inflatable screens to do an outdoor movie night...

The vanishing empire

I remember in my youth TV sets that had a UHF dial that went up to 83.

14-83 were UHF, adjacent 6 MHz channels, starting at 470 MHz. So ((83-14)+1)*6+470 = 890 MHz. And right above that was (and is) the 902-928 Mhz Amateur/ISM band.

So what happened?

Well, the first thing that happened was the creation of the cellular 800 MHz band. That brought the band down to channel 69 - moving the top end of the band down to 800 MHz.

Of course, just under two weeks ago, the band has been reduced down to channel 51 - and now the top end is at 700 MHz. That's 190 MHz that's been reallocated away - almost half of the UHF band.

But even that doesn't tell the whole story. Between channels 14 and 20 are a series of band sharing arrangements that make some of those channels unavailable in certain geographical areas around the country. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, channels 15-18 are off-limits because 16 and 17 are used in San Francisco for land-mobile.

Low VHF may wind up being the next casualty. It is widely conceded that ATSC doesn't work terribly well on channels 2-6 because of the background noise levels. Can we really justify a nationwide set-aside of 54-72 MHz for the sake of 15 full power TV stations?

Michael Jackson, RIP

The only thing I really want to say about Michael Jackson is that I'll bet anyone who cares a dollar that within 10 years the same stupid rumors and stories about his death will circulate as they did about Elvis.

TV stations as 6 meter beacons, Take 2

So it turns out the list I posted yesterday may have been a pre-transition list, or it may just be wrong. Trip left a comment pointing to, which looks like it has the best list available.

Thanks, Trip!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hawking HBB1 Broadband Booster review

We have Vonage and an Apple AirPort Extreme. This isn't the happiest possible combination, since the AEBS lacks any sort of QoS capability. As a workaround, I used to have the FreeBSD machine hooked up as a bridge with dummynet giving priority to the packets from the Vonage box. But this is a pretty heavyweight solution and makes that machine part of the critical path for Internet connectivity in the house.

There just had to be a better way.

Turns out, there is.

The Hawking HBB1 is billed as a "broadband booster." There is almost no documentation available on the Internet about how it does what it does. My guess is that it simply gives priority over UDP packets over TCP, but that's just a guess. In any event, one thing I've discovered so far is that it helps to actually tell the box what your Internet connection's actual uplink bandwidth is. The idea is that for best results, you need to take the burden of dropping excess packets away from your modem (because the modem won't care which one it drops), and give that job to the HBB1. The HBB1 has the ability to test the available upload bandwidth, but I've had better results just telling it that our connection has 640 kbps (which is a tad less than the rated value of 768 kbps).

The HBB1 is just a Ubicom StreamEngine in a box. The StreamEngine has been built into many so-called "gaming" home routers. The HBB1 is a way to add this same thing to a router that doesn't have it - like the AEBS.

So you may be asking, why not just buy one of those routers instead of the AEBS. Well, the AEBS supports IPv6, which so far as I can tell no other home router available does.

Anyway, with this device in place, the Vonage box works just as well as it did when I had the FreeBSD QoS solution in place. They can be had for a very cheap price on eBay, so all in all, I'd say it's a worthwhile purchase.

Bye bye, text messaging

Push notification has arrived on the iPhone, and in particular the AIM client. And I've used it for a day now, and it works perfectly, so far as I can tell. It's so good that it will make a perfect replacement for text messaging. On the iPhone, AIM is free, but text messages aren't.

Now, it's not perfect - everyone you talk to needs to have a mobile AIM client, or else they'll have to keep using text messages, and the coming ability to send multimedia messages wouldn't integrate with AIM the same way it would with text messaging. But for the most part, this ought to dramatically lessen our need for text messaging from now on.

Perhaps this will result in AT&T dropping the ridiculously draconian pricing scheme for text messaging. The value of it has certainly been dramatically reduced.

TV stations as 6 meter beacons

It used to be that if you lived in a place where there was no TV channel 2 broadcaster, you could tune your 6 meter receiver to 55.25 MHz to see if the 6 meter band was open. If it was, you'd find the video carrier of a TV broadcaster on channel 2.

With the change to digital, one would think that that trick would be a thing of the past, but that's not necessarily true. ATSC also includes a pilot frequency too - typically about 300 kHz up from the bottom end of the channel - 54.3 kHz or so for channel 2.

Also, there are fewer low-VHF broadcasters with the switch to digital than there used to be. Low VHF is not the best choice for ATSC because of the higher level of background electrical noise, so most broadcasters who formerly used low VHF have moved their digital transmitters to UHF instead.

There are a few high power stations on low VHF, though. Here's a list:

Butte, MT2KTVM
Chicago, IL3WBBM
Cleveland, OH2WKYC
Grand Junction, CO2KREX
Grand Rapids, MI2WOOD
Harrisburg, PA4WHP
Las Vegas, NV2KVVU
Lexington, KY4WDKY
Macon, GA4WMAZ
Rapid City, SD2KOTA
Roanoke, VA3WBRA
Tallahassee, FL2WTWC

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The link between DirecTV and Kindle

The Kindle is an interesting device in a relatively uninteresting market (to me, anyway. I understand that lots of folks appreciate books more than I do). What's interesting about it to ne isn't really the screen or anything like that, it's whispernet. Whispernet is the wireless data connection built into each Kindle. When you buy an eBook for the Kindle, it just magically appears a few minutes later. This happens because a cellular data modem is built-in.

Well, DirecTV receivers need to occasionally upload a relatively small amount of data to their headquarters once or twice a month or so, and sometimes would like to know it's geographical location to within a zip code.

Guess what: cell data modems can do just that.

DirecTV receivers could replace their built-in phone line modem with a GSM modem and antenna. The SIM card could be built in to the receiver's crypto card. Folks would no longer need to plug a phone cord into their receivers.

The one rub is that DirecTV needs to offer service in places where there is no cellular service or the signal is unusable. The workaround for that would be to have a USB modem that could connect the receiver to a landline the way they do today.

The other idea for people who live in a cellular service area, but don't have service near the receiver, would be to put the GSM modem physically on the dish, and let the receivers talk to it the same way they talk to the SWM. USB modems for laptops can be made only an inch or two long. A GSM modem could be made in a similarly sized plastic block with a pair of F connectors on either end and tap into the cable for power and data I/O.

The big question is whether or not there's anyone at DirecTV who can make the logical leap that would be required to see how this would make sense for them.

6to4 for iPhone?

It occurs to me that adding IPv6 support to the iPhone, or indeed any mobile device like it, would be relatively easy. Since they have a routable IPv4 address, they could easily do 6to4. When on via WiFi, they could use router and prefix solicitation when available, and when not, then it simply wouldn't be available, but there's really no reason why 6to4 couldn't be used on the WAN interface. It isn't as if it adds any overhead when it isn't being used. The benefit would be the ability to surf IPv6 only sites transparently, plus moves us all closer to IPv6 adoption. It also would pave the way for AT&T to upgrade the network to native IPv6 with IPv4 support via NATPT. That too could be accomplished transparently, if they were careful.

Friday, June 19, 2009

XM on iPhone

I listened to XM through my iPhone pretty much all day long while I worked today. I even did it over A2DP headphones. The experience was almost completely seamless.

One glitch is that while the iPod app pops up an audio device selector widget when there's an A2DP headphone available, 3rd party apps do not. This means that initially you may need to use the iPod to play a snippet of some audio, then select the A2DP headphones, then flip over to the XM app and fire it up. Once you start it, however, it sticks with your A2DP device for as long as it can.

XM sounds to me as good as it ever does in the car when the phone has WiFi. It's slightly worse over 3G, but it's certainly acceptable. It worked well while I was on CalTrain - no pauses or gaps.

The only part of the experience that leaves anything to be desired it's the cost. XM is $12.95/mo if you don't have a radio at all - equivalent to the cost of their full radio package, even though they leave out some channels (mostly news and talk) that they don't have internet streaming rights for. If you have a radio on the $13/mo plan, be prepared to shell out an additional $3/mo for streaming privileges.

It seems to me we've seen this dance before: a company struggling financially raises prices in order to try and drive up revenue. Inevitably the result of such short-sighted thinking is a rush for the exits. Sigh.

But it's worth it to me at least for as long as they can make it last.

iPhone 3GS - got one

Well, that was painless, for the most part. I went to stand in line at the Valley Fair Apple store at 5:30 AM and I had an iPhone 3GS in my hands by 6:15 AM this morning. I didn't actually leave the building with it until 6:45, though, thanks to AT&T. Recall that I had swapped the SIM card with Scarlet's phone so she could enjoy the 3G this week. I had to momentarily undo that for the purpose of the 3GS acquisition, however, because officially my phone number wasn't due for a free upgrade yet. So officially Scarlet's number got the 3GS upgrade, and then we swapped SIM cards back again. Cumbersome, but in the end it was successful.

The compass reminds me a little bit of a compass you might use on the deck of a ship - it's a little bit unstable and while it usually points generally in the right direction, it jumps around a little. It also has this tendency to require you to "recalibrate it" by moving the phone in a figure 8 motion. Whenever I hold the phone out and do this, Scarlet giggles a little. She says it reminds her of something you'd see a snake charming swami do.

When I got to work, I paired the phone with my A2DP capable bluetooth headset. That seems to have been a totally painless exercise. I can now listen to Sirius/XM with the phone while not having to leave the browser on the computer pointing to the XM streaming server. The audio quality of the XM streams is quite nice, even when you get it over 3G. The downside is that, since it's a 3rd party app, it can't stream the audio in the background under other apps, like the built-in iPod app can. Maybe this is something Apple can loosen up with further API modifications later.

The only downside there is that I have to switch back and forth between the iPhone and the hockey-puck audio transmitter connected to the audio out on my work machine. I might wind up just choosing to use the wired headphones for the phone and the BT set for the computer like it was before.

The other downside now is that I have an inactive iPhone 2G now to get rid of. I suspect eBay will be saturated with them, and now that the 3G is being sold for $99, their value has plummeted. I also have a small collection of iPhone 2G cases that we no longer have any use for.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

You're kidding, right?

Today is Autistic Pride Day.



Autism is a disability. I have one working eye. I'm not proud of that. If I were in a wheelchair, or had cancer, or AIDS, I don't think I'd be proud of that either. I am proud to be a U.S. Citizen (most of the time), a Ham Radio operator, a voter... lots of things. But it doesn't make sense to me that one would be proud of something that has a profound negative impact on your quality of life. You might choose to either fix it, if it's fixable, or work to prevent it happening to others, if it's preventable, or perhaps work to obtain accommodation from the world for your condition. Or you might work to convince the majority not to perceive your difference as an abnormality. And those are laudable things to do.

Words have meanings. Pride means "a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired." It just doesn't make sense to talk about "pride" in something that isn't a quality that is widely admired.

As for autism, well, I just have to say that autistic kids rock!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

iPhone tethering - opportunistic plan?

So "later this summer" AT&T will announce the iPhone tethering plans. For those of you who don't know, tethering means being able to share your phone's internet connectivity with your laptop either through bluetooth or over a USB cable.

if you ask me, it's likely to be about $30/mo. for all-you-can-eat tethering. Why? Because the unlimited data plans for USB dongles are about $50, but the value proposition is a bit lower with the iPhone because you already have Safari and other network connected apps right on the phone itself.

Even when all I had was the iPhone 1G with EDGE, I found that I stopped taking my laptop with me on trips. I just loaded some movies into the phone to watch on the plane and surfed with EDGE and WiFi. But the phone can't do everything. I can't play online poker on the phone or watch Netflix instant watching. The last time I was stuck in the hospital, I borrowed a Verizon data dongle from a friend of mine so that I could do those things.

In short, it's not worth it for me to pay monthly for a data connection for my computer. No, what I want is to be able to buy a "day pass" of unlimited tethering for something like $4.99.

If AT&T offered that as a feature, they'd probably actually get a lot more money than they would with monthly plans. Take a look at my hospital stay: I was stuck in the hospital for 5 days and part of a 6th. At $5/day, that would have been $30 - what they'd probably expect to get for a full month's worth of service. And it would be worth it for me, because I normally don't need to have tethering at all. But when I do need it, I'm willing to pay about that much for it.

They'd also profoundly impact the WiFi hotspot market, where the price for day passes at places like airports can exceed $10 (in theory, the airport internet connection over WiFi would be faster than 3G, but that's not always the case in heavily congested public places like airports).

So how 'bout it, AT&T?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Beware of iPhone SIM card swapping

So Friday is Iphone 3GS day. Recall that our plan is to upgrade Scarlet's phone from an iPhone 1G to the 3GS, and then swap the phones around so I get the new one. I'll remind everyone that might be thinking I'm a misogynist that this was her idea, since she doesn't really have any use for the additional features, but has call quality problems on her EDGE phone.

Well, I decided since it was going to be on Friday anyway to go ahead and swap the phones now and let her have the upgrade a little earlier, while I could "suffer" with the iPhone 1G until Friday. I called up AT&T/Apple support last Monday and they said that this SIM swap idea would work just fine.

Well, it might work for 3G/3GS phones, but it apparently doesn't work for the 1G. When I did the SIM swap, it went just perfectly for the 1G's SIM going into the 3G phone. That phone now is Scarlet's, and it was easy to simply restore it from a backup (thankfully, it retains the 3G phone's firmware and feature set). However, upon obtaining the 3G phone's old SIM card, the 1G phone became un-activated - that is, it put up the "please connect me to iTunes / swipe for SOS" screen. Connecting the phone to the mac resulted in heading down the new account activation path, and in the end, fails to activate.

After going through a couple of different support folk at AT&T/Apple, it appears that this procedure has toasted the SIM card from the 3G. I guess iPhone 1Gs are SIM card roach motels.

At first, AT&T tried to suggest that I would need to buy a new SIM card for $25. When I told them that it was their recommendation that I swap the SIMs in the first place, they said they would waive the fee and mail me one. But I'm still out a phone for at least today and tomorrow until the card comes in the mail.

So let that be a lesson to you: you can apparently swap SIM cards in the 3G iPhones, but not the 1G.

Friday, June 12, 2009

DTV Transition round-up

Here's the log of what I've observed with a combination of a cron job watching reception on the HD HomeRun periodically and tuning in with both analog and digital.

00:00 (midnight) - KRON's channel 57 transmitter goes off the air, ending their pre-transition operation.

03:00 - KRON's channel 38 transmitter takes flight. Received signal strength is a healthy improvement from their channel 57 operation. This likely is simply a difference in multipath having to do with my attempt to optimize the antenna for KRCB. KRON was able to make this move due to the earlier shutdown of KCNS-TV, which left channel 38 vacant for them.

05:45 - I woke up a bit early this morning to check on the new KRON. As expected, it comes in very well on all of the receivers in the house. That bodes well for the future of KTVU as well, since they'll be moving off channel 56 down to 44 this evening after KBCW-TV shuts down.

12:30 - KSBW-TV ends analog operations right after their noon newscast. They came back up on channel 8 5 minutes later, but unfortunately, the months and months of waiting for them to get out from under the interference from KXTV has not helped our reception. It still comes in and out, despite a signal strength in the mid 70s. Ironically, now that there's only 6 hours left, KXTV-TV is coming in almost as well as KSBW-TV used to.

18:25 - KOVR-TV ends analog operations. Unfortunately, as was the case with KSBW, the KCBA signal doesn't look like it's improved much.

That's it so far. The rest will happen in the wee hours of tomorrow morning.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

6 hours to go

At midnight tonight, the last full day of full power analog television broadcasting in the United States begins. Various stations in the San Francisco markets will be transitioning at various points throughout the day, so if a station you watch doesn't appear to be there, a simple rescan on your receiver will likely bring it back.

To be determined is how owners of DirecTV DVRs will cope, since the list of available stations comes over the dish - there is no way to get the receivers to rescan.

Some stations are already using their post-transition facilities, and no changes will be made going forward. Those stations that are making some sort of change around here are:

KTVU will move from channel 56 to channel 44
KRON will move from channel 57 to channel 38
KGO will move from channel 24 to channel 7, where their analog signal used to be
KSBW will move from channel 10 to channel 8, where their analog signal used to be
KNTV's digital operation is already on their post-transition facility, but their analog transmitter will be doing nightlight duty for the next 14 days.
KTNC had already shut down their digital transmitter back in late January. They are going to bring up their new digital transmitter on channel 14 as soon as they can after KDTV-TV shuts down.
KTFK has already shut down their analog transmitter, and will shut down their Mt. Diablo transmitter and begin post-transition operation from Walnut Grove, ending their availability for most viewers in the Bay Area.

Look for KSBW to shut down their analog operation shortly after the end of their noon newscast and bring up their post-transition digital signal on channel 8. This will be the big indicator (for me, at least) of whether or not elimination of the QRM from the Walnut Grove analog signals was the only thing keeping us from being able to receive the Fremont Peak VHF DTV stations. Fingers crossed!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Bluetooth POTS gateway, take 2

A while ago, we replaced our primary AT&T nee PacBell home phone line with Vonage. And it was good. But Vonage's pricing structure is not really significantly different from Cell phones, at least when compared to POTS lines (remember having a separate long distance company? *shudder*).

One big feature I like about home phones is having a bunch of cordless handsets scattered around the house. Cell phones couldn't do that.... until now.

A new class of device has appeared called a Bluetooth Phone line gateway. It installs between the incoming phone line and your telephone. You pair your bluetooth-enabled cell phone with it, and while your cell phone is in range and linked up, any calls you receive on your cell phone will make your house phone ring. And outgoing calls can be made through your cell phone.

The first one I attempted to use a few months ago was the XLink ITC-BTTN. It had real reliability issues, so it was dismissed.

Well, I've given the category one more try. This time, the flavor of choice is the Cell2Tel Gateway. It's only been a couple of hours, but initial tests have been better than the XLink.

Watch this space for more updates on the review as time goes by.

iPhone 3GS

Well, the new iPhones have been announced.

I've always told my friends that it was unlikely that Apple would add enough features to make me upgrade from the iPhone 3G. And especially since it turns out that they're going to charge more for folks who own the 3G iPhone (since it's subsidized, and 2 years haven't yet elapsed). But it looks like I will get one anyway. How can I say that without hypocrisy?

A while ago, we got a 1st generation iPhone for Scarlet. For reasons we haven't quite figured out, it seems like the reception and call quality on it have gone down lately. Perhaps AT&T has been optimizing their network for 3G coverage at the expense of 1G. But in any event, it's certainly true. We swapped phones a while ago, and for half the day, she said the 3G did a much better job, particularly around our house. Then I had her disable 3G on the phone for the rest of the day, and it sucked just as bad as her old iPhone.

iPhone 1Gs were always unsubsidized, so we can upgrade that phone to a 3GS without penalty.

But Scarlet doesn't really want all the fancy new features. She just wants the phone to work better (that is to say, properly). So we'll go ahead and upgrade her phone to a 3GS, and then we'll swap the SIM cards and resync them. Presto.

Yes, Apple will still be selling the 8GB 3G phones for $99, but I don't think that's a really good deal. Doing it the way we plan will get her twice as much space for music and movies, and I'll get the voice command (which would be very handy for driving), and the better camera.

And, of course, if we wind up getting one of the rumored AT&T Femtoocells (the jury is still out on that idea), we'd have to upgrade her anyway, since they apparently won't work except with 3G phones.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

How not to sell a car

I was walking down the street this afternoon, when I saw this car:

That's a Honda Civic from the early '90s, and it's for sale. Note the big selling point: that the car has a clean title.

The car is worth, what, about $19.47? Why would it not have a clean title?! Why would you even mention that?! Wouldn't you see that and imagine the seller saying, "Oh, I know the last pearl-white '87 Honda Civic I tried to sell turns out to have been stolen, but I can assure you that this one has a clean title."

Memo to the MythBusters: next time you guys need to blow up or trash a sub-compact, I know where you can find one with a clean title!

My K6BEN reception

So, I'm not sure if I'm being too picky or not. I have a 5 element 70 cm antenna aimed right at K6BEN, and I've peaked it as best I can. Here's what the picture looks like - this is a picture of our big screen tuning it in taken with my iPhone:

I call that P4, which doesn't seem to me like it's as good as I should be able to get with this antenna.